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Expecting More Cases With Movement of Returnees, Curfew to Continue Till May 31: HP Govt

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Lockdown-extended-in-india-till-may 31

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government on May 17, 2020, officially announced the extension of the lockdown till May 31.

The announcement came after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India (GoI) issued an order, on May 18, under the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005, for extension of the lockdown till May 31, 2020. The State has decided the curfew would remain in effect as it is. 

The Government said as the number of COVID-19 cases has been continuously rising, the circumstances require restrictions through curfew.

The Government also attributed the cause of a surge in COVID-19 positive cases to the return of over 1.5 lakh people who were stranded in other States. Over 60, 000 more are have applied for passes and would be returning to the State in the upcoming days.

The Government has urged the people returning from other States to behave as responsible citizens and follow home-quarantine strictly for the sake of the people of the State.

Currently, the number of active cases in Himachal has risen to 80, out of which half of the cases have appeared within the last two weeks owing to State’s Government’s lackadaisical attitude towards taking sufficient measures and well-thought strategy for management of the mass movement of people into the State.

The tally of active cases is 32 as one of the patients in Kangra’s Jamanabad recovered and tested negative for COVID-19. The tally for COVID-19 deaths has also risen to three as two deaths were reported within the last two weeks. The Health Department statistics say that a total of 17417 persons have been tested in the State till May 17 and 21343 people were under surveillance.

On May 17, the State reported two more positive cases. Both cases were reported from Hamirpur district’s Naduan area.

In the first case, a 59-year-old, who had returned from Mumbai in a taxi with five others, tested positive. He hails from gram panchayat Kardi village.

The second person who tested positive belongs to Tayongli village. He had returned from Mumbai in a taxi as well which he shared with two others.  

Both cases were transferred to Bhota COVID hospital, an official of the Health Department confirmed. The Deputy Commissioner, Hamirpur, Harikesh Meena, has ordered sealing the areas from where the cases were reported.

The salient features of the new guidelines are as follows:

States to decide various Zones

Under the new guidelines, States and Union Territories (UTs) will now delineate Red, Green and Orange zones taking into consideration the parameters shared by the Health Ministry. The zones can be a district, or a municipal corporation/ municipality or even smaller administrative units such as sub-divisions, etc, as decided by States and UTs.

Within the red and orange zones, containment and buffer zones will be demarcated by the local authorities, after taking into consideration the Health Ministry guidelines. 

Within the containment zones, only essential activities shall be allowed. Strict perimeter control would be maintained, and no movement of persons would be allowed, except for medical emergencies and for maintaining the supply of essential goods and services.  Buffer zones are areas adjoining each containment zone, where new cases are more likely to appear.  In the buffer zones, more caution needs to be exercised.

Activities Prohibited throughout the Country

A limited number of activities will continue to remain prohibited throughout the country.  These include:

  • all domestic and international air travel of passengers, except for domestic medical services, domestic air ambulance and for security purposes or purposes as permitted by MHA;
  • metro rail services;
  • running of schools, colleges, educational and training/coaching institutions;
  • hotels, restaurants and other hospitality services, except for the running of canteens in bus depots, railway stations and airports;
  • places of large public gatherings such as cinemas, shopping malls, gymnasiums entertainment parks, etc.;
  • social, political, cultural and similar gatherings and other large congregations; and, access to religious places/places of worship for the public.  

However, online/ distance learning would be permitted and encouraged; and, restaurants will be allowed to operate kitchens for home delivery of food items.

Opening up of Sports Activities

Sports complexes and stadia will be permitted to open only for sports activities.  However, spectators will not be allowed in these complexes.

Activities permitted with restrictions

To facilitate the movement of persons, various modes of transport have already been opened up.  Movement of individuals by trains has been permitted earlier by MHA through an order dated 11.05.2020.   Further, evacuation of foreign nationals from India, the return of stranded Indian nationals from abroad, sign-on and sign-off of Indian seafarers, and intra-State and inter-State movement of stranded persons by bus and train, will continue to be allowed.

Inter-State movement of vehicles and buses has also been allowed with mutual consent of the concerned States/ UTs.  Intra-State movement of vehicles and buses can be decided by the States and UTs. 

National Directives for COVID-19 management

The guidelines specify the National Directives for COVID-19 management, which would apply to public places and workplaces. 

Under these guidelines, wearing of face covers is compulsory; spitting will be punishable with fine as may be prescribed in accordance with its laws, rules or regulations by the State/ UT local authority; and social distancing is to be followed by all persons in public places and during transport.  Marriage-related gathering should not have more than 50 guests.  For funerals/ last rites, the maximum number of persons allowed has been kept at 20.  Consumption of liquor, paan, gutkha and tobacco etc., is not allowed in public places. 

The National Directives also stipulate additional requirements for workplaces.  The practice of work from home (WfH) should be followed to the extent possible, and staggering of work hours should be adopted in respect of all offices and other establishments.  There should be provision for thermal scanning, hand wash and sanitizers at all entry and exit points and common areas; and all workplaces and other sensitive locations are to be sanitized regularly.  In workplaces, social distancing would also need to be ensured through adequate distance between workers, adequate gaps between shifts, staggering the lunch break of staff and so on. 

Stipulations regarding Shops and Markets

Local authorities should ensure that shops and markets open with staggered timings, to ensure social distancing.   All shops should also have to ensure six feet distance (2 gaz ki doori) among customers and also not allow more than 5 persons at one time.

Night Curfew

Night Curfew will continue to remain in force on the movement of individuals, for all non-essential activities, between 7 pm and 7 am.

Protection for Vulnerable Persons

Vulnerable persons, i.e., persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years, should stay at home, except for meeting essential requirements and for health purposes.

All activities to be Permitted other than the limited number of those that are prohibited or restricted

All other activities will be permitted except those which are specifically prohibited under these guidelines. However, in containment zones, only essential activities would be allowed, as mentioned earlier.

States to decide on activities within various Zones

States/ UTs, based on their assessment of the situation, may prohibit certain other activities in the various zones, or impose such restrictions as deemed necessary.

Use of Aarogya Setu

Employers on best effort basis should ensure that Aarogya Setu mobile application is installed by all employees having compatible mobile phones. 

District authorities have been asked to advise individuals to install the Aarogya Setu application on compatible mobile phones and regularly update their health status on the app. State/ UT Governments have been asked continue to strictly enforce the lockdown guidelines and they shall not dilute these guidelines issued under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, in any manner.

 

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Foundation Stone of Shiv Dham at Mandi Laid, Will Cost Rs. 150 Crore

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Shiv Dham Mandi model

Mandi: Shiv Dham construction at Mandi would cost over Rs. 150 crores to the State. It was informed during the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Shiv Dham Phase-I to be developed at Kangnidhar. The First Phase of this project would be completed at a cost of Rs. 40 crore, the government said.

The Shiv Dham would be developed in an area of 9.5 hectares. Shiv Dham would have replicas of twelve Jyotirlingam, a statue of Lord Shiva and Ganesh, Museum, Food Court, Herbal Garden, Nakshatra Vatika, Amphi-theatre, Orientation Centre, Car Parking etc. 

Further, it was informed that the foundation stone of multi-storey parking was laid near U-Block. An estimated amount of Rs. 100 crore would be spent on Public-Private Partnership mode, the government informed.

There is also a proposal to construct Rs. 27 crore Anaj Mandi (Grain Market) in Mandi, it was informed.

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New Farm Laws Could be Death Knell for States like Himachal, Says 19 Organizations While Expressing Solidarity with Farmers Protest

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Himachal PRadesh supports farmers protest

Shimla-More support is pouring in for farmers protest from Himachal Pradesh. Today, about 19 social organizations, women’s organisations and farmer’s groups issued a joint public statement today in solidarity with the three-month long farmer’s movement in the country.

The statement demands the repeal of the three new farm laws introduced by the central government and calls for strengthening minimum support prices, extending it to crops, especially fruits and vegetables grown for the market in Himachal Pradesh. The statement is critical of the non-democratic manner in which the bills were passed in the parliament in a hurry in the middle of the Covid led lockdown.

Highlighting the issues with each of the laws the organisations condemned the fact that these are designed to benefit the large corporate houses which would ultimately break the back of the farmers.

The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 has the potential of destroying the government led APMC mandis, the oganizations said.

The second law on contract farming puts the farmers in the dock by not just opening them to risks when getting into contracts with companies but also by closing the door of the courts for redressal for farmers, the statement said.  

Also Read: Supporters in Himachal Displaying Solidarity With Protesting Farmers, Term Delhi Violence a Failed Conspiracy to Discredit Movement

Further the statement said that the third law, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, as corporates are allowed to buy, store, sell produce minus regulation and accountability of any sort. It also seeks to restrict the powers of the government with respect to production, supply, and distribution of certain key commodities. It is now evident that this will have a direct impact on the storage and distribution of subsidized grains by the government. This can turn out to be a direct threat for food security of the country.

“For a state like Himachal Pradesh where a large section of the population depends heavily on food grains produced by the farmers of the plains and distributed at subsidized rates through the PDS these laws could prove to be a death knell,” the groups said in the statement.  

Even for those who are able to procure from the market, the rising prices of commodities would be a direct hit on their pockets. Apart from the consumers, the farmers of the state will also suffer a setback. The absence of MSPs for fruits and off-season vegetables and lack of APMC markets here have already been a cause of concern for the cash croppers of the state, the statement read.

“In fact fruit and vegetable producer unions have been demanding extension of MSPs and better markets so that apple producers for example are not exploited by ‘middlemen’ and private vendors,” the organizations said.  

In the terai region where there is a surplus of maize produce farmers are forced to sell it at Rs 1000 to 1200 whereas Rs 1850 is the MSP – but the markets are too far for them to access, they said.

The statement has also condemned the manner in which the state and central governments have tried to defame the peaceful protests through various tactics.

“The repression of those coming out in support of the farmer’s movement, be it activists or journalists reporting on the developments is utterly shameful and against the principles of democracy,” the statemen said.  

The groups said that they are also going to send this statement as a submission to the President of India demanding repeal of the three laws.

Housing in makeshift camps, tens of thousands of farmers have been protesting on Delhi boarders for nearly 100 days now. Though the protests had begun last year, the movement has seen a massive growth in recent weeks as it receiving support from environmental activists, opposition parties and even Western celebrities. Now, this farmers movement is spreading to the country’s northern and western farm belts.

The group of organizations that issued this statement includes All India Democratic Women’s Association, HP (AIDWA), Bhumiheen Bhumi Adhikar Manch, HP, Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti, Citizens’ Rights Forum, Kangra, Ekal Nari Shakti Sangathan, HP, Ghumantu Pashupalak Mahasabha, Chamba, Himachal Kisan Sabha, Himalaya Niti Abhiyan, Himdhara Environment Research and Action Collective, Parvatiya Mahila Adhikar Manch, Right To Education Forum, HP, Samajik Arthik Samanta ke Liye Jan Abhiyan, Save Lahaul Spiti, Spiti Civil Society, Sirmaur Van Adhikar Manch, Sambhaavnaa Institute, SUTRA, Solan,  Tower Line Soshit Jagrukta Manch, Himachal Pradesh, and Zila Van Adhikar Samiti, Kinnaur.

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Ugly Brawl at HP Vidhan Sabha on Budget Session’s Opening Day, Five Congress Legislators Suspended for Rest of Session

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HP Vidhan Sabha

Shimla- The Budget Session 2021-22 of the Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha witnessed an ugly scene on the opening day of the session. The situation was so tense that it led to a scuffle between BJP MLAs, Minister, and Congress legislator including the leader of opposition Mukesh Agnihotri. Congress alleged that its legislators were manhandled. Following this incident, five legislators including Agnihotri, Harsh Vardhan, Satpal Raizada, Vinay Kumar, and Sunder Singh Thakur were reportedly suspended for the rest of the session. Later, an FIR was also filed against the legislators at the Boileauganj Police Station.

It was shocking to see the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, and Chief Minister jumping into the brawl as it raised concerns about arrangement and management of security at the Vidhan Sabha.

The motion for their suspension was introduced and passed in the absence of opposition legislators.

What Happened at Vidhan Sabha

Mukesh Agnihotri disrupted the speech of the Governor saying that it includes no mention of crucial issues like price rise of petrol, diesel cooking gas, inflation, unemployment, corruption, back-door entries etc. Agnihotri said the speech was nothing more than a bundle of lies. Agnihotri claim that Dattatreya had skipped a major portion of his speech and had chosen to stay mum on these critical issues. Governor Bandaru Dattatraya, following din, did not read the entire speech and ended his speech within 15 minutes abruptly.

Subsequently, the proceedings were adjourned till 2 pm on Monday. 

When the Governor was leaving from Vidhan Sabha, Mukesh Agnihotri, along with other Congress legislators, blocked the road and did not let the Governor’s car leave the premises. Agnihotri was seen trying to lay on the bonnet of the car. Videos clearly showed legislator pushing each other and using a hostile tone. Minister Suresh Bhardwaj was seen falling down on the ground, while Deputy Speaker Hans Raj was seen pushing Congress legislators.

“It’s the first time in the history of Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha that the Governor did not read the entire speech and allegedly fled the Vidhan Sabha,” Agnihotri said. He said that Congress legislators only wanted to speak to the Governor.

Agnihotri alleged that they were pushed, dragged, and manhandled even though they were only raising slogans and did not even touch the Governor or the Chief Minister. 

Speaking on the suspension of five Congress legislators, Vikramaditya Singh, MLA of Shimla (Rural) questioned as to why only action was taken on the Congress legislators and not the Deputy Speaker, Hans Raj. In videos, he was seen pushing Congress legislators.

The Speaker, HP Vidhan Sabha, Vipin Parmar condemned the ruckus and blamed it on the Congress legislators. He alleged Congress of manhandling the Governor. He said that the incident has brought embarrassment to the State Assembly and the constitution of India. 

Later, when the session was resumed, referring to the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly, the Chief Minister said that Rule number 30 says,

“No member shall interrupt the Governor when he is addressing the House; or display any placard; or shout any slogans; make nay protect; or raise any point of order, debate; or discussion; or otherwise willfully disrupt the proceedings, immediately preceding or during, or immediately following the Governor’s Address under Article 175 (1) of the Constitution and the Governor’s Special Address under 176(1) of the Constitutions, and the commission of any of the above lapses shall be treated as contempt of the House and dealt with as such under these rules.”

The session is scheduled to conclude on March 20.

The chief minister will present the budget for 2021-22 in the Assembly on March 6, Speaker Vipin Parmar had said on Thursday.

 

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